MRO Magazine

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Operationalizing Reliability


A holistic approach to ensuring reliable operations.

During the recent Reliable Plant 2019 Conference and Exhibition in Cleveland, MRO had the opportunity to sit in on learning sessions, which covered a broad range of topics in the maintenance field. One such session was Operational Reliability: What Is It and How You Can Achieve It by George Williams, Founder and CEO and Joseph Anderson, COO, of ReliabilityX.

Their presentation focused on how to bring a holistic approach to ensure reliable operations. They explained how operational reliability bridges the gap between organizational silos by including all aspects of the business to focus on delivering business value through reliability. They presented a framework, which provides a better understanding of how complex it is for an organization to deliver reliable performance. Framework structure was explained to show how organizational objectives are met through asset objectives and operations objectives, which are met through sound strategy and tactical delivery.

They explained how operational reliability seeks to ensure every ounce of performance is delivered by eliminating losses. Reliable operation is about minimizing losses, not just breakdowns. Operational reliability is a more proactive approach to ensuring losses are seen as failures, or defects, and are, in turn, eliminated. MRO spoke to Williams and Anderson to get a more in-depth look at the holistic approach to reliable operations that they presented.

MRO: You spoke to a holistic approach to reliability, can you explain that?
Williams/Anderson: Reliability, much like safety, takes everyone to achieve. You can have a machine with zero breakdowns, but if procurement seeks to save a penny per container and the new container specs necessary to save that penny causes minor stops, not only will you never see the penny savings, you will also increase costs to produce due to the minor stops. Procurement, being in their silo, is claiming a cost savings and cheering themselves on while performance decreases and no one makes the connection.

This happens across many groups, and while each individual silo believes it is doing the right thing, without a holistic approach, shared goals, and training, ultimately, the line’s performance suffers.

MRO: What do you see as the main goals of operational reliability?
W/A: Delivering on not only business objectives, but to truly understand what is possible and deliver on that. Ensuring each person understands his or her impact on reliability; as well as evolving, not changing, culture.

MRO: Can you speak about loss analysis and how it plays a role in MRO?
W/A: The loss analysis seeks to identify how performance is being impacted and buckets those into 25 loss categories. The loss categories tell us what types of losses are contributing to lower than possible performance. Operational reliability seeks to eliminate losses, and MRO management plays a significant role in the elimination of certain losses. Ensuring consumables for the production operation are available when needed and readily accessible is vital to overall line performance.

A filter for printer ink, which clogs but then is not available, can have a major impact to the production team. In addition, items necessary from a maintenance perspective, whether needed as PM wear component replacements or critical spares must be managed appropriately.

Practices that exist today causing losses driven by poor MRO management, include:
1. Simple MTTR efficiency associated with searching undocumented satellite stores such as people’s tool carts, shop areas, storage sheds, etc.
2. Not stocking the right level of spares due to:
a. Lack of math driving ROP analysis, and adjustments in stocking levels and;
b. Existence of satellite stores, which minimize turns and, cause storeroom, which uses math to lower stocking levels.
3. Not controlling the storeroom and all items. This causes the above issues. The list can go on and on but the point is, the MRO management piece aids in loss elimination for both operations and maintenance.

MRO: You mentioned how organizations are like football teams. Can you expand on that?
M/A: It is an analogy to compare the plant to a football team with the archrival being losses.
i. The plant manager is the coach;
ii. Maintenance manager is the quarterback;
iii. Maintenance department is the rest of the offence;
iv. Operations group is the defence;
v. Quality organization is the referees;
vi. Corporate is the front office;
vii. Safety/training departments are the athletic trainers;
viii. Logistics is logistics.
ix. Losses are your archrival that keeps you from being world champions. They are out to get you and they are winning! Average plant is 33 per cent efficient. World-class plant is 70 to 85 per cent, depending upon product mix.

MRO: What is the importance of having operations be involved in maintenance?
W/A: Maintenance starts with operations. The front-line defence is operations. They know the pulse of the line. If we can invest in them to understand the manufacturing process mechanically and provide them with an opportunity to proactively find defects and sources of losses, they can play a significant role in ensuring reliable operation.

MRO: What would you say are the most important aspects of operational reliability?
W/A: People, people, people. Business understanding. Understanding how losses impact business goals and which losses your role contributes to. Empowering your team to eliminate their own losses. Empowerment takes two major pieces. First, you must “give” empowerment. This is the easy part.

Leadership gets everyone in a room and says, “you’re empowered.” That alone, however, does not create empowerment. Second, people must “feel” empowered. This is where most efforts to “change” culture or empower people fail.


Mario Cywinski

Mario Cywinski is the Editor of Machinery and Equipment MRO magazine, a member of the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada, and a judge for Canadian Truck King Challenge. He has over 10 years of editorial experience and over 15 years of automobile industry experience, as well as small business industry experience.
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